European Parliament agrees position on strengthening the enforcement of data protection rules

April 25, 2024

The European Parliament has adopted its position on new procedural rules for the enforcement of the GDPR, which is enforced by independent national data protection authorities.

However, the European Parliament has expressed its concern about “the uneven and sometimes non-existent enforcement of the GDPR by national data protection authorities”. It said that lengthy procedures can produce an “adverse effect on effective enforcement and on citizens’ trust”.

In its first evaluation report on the GDPR, the European Commission noted that the handling of cross-border cases should be “more efficient and harmonised across the EU”.  Therefore, the current proposal aims to improve co-operation, provide more detail about dispute resolution mechanisms, and harmonise certain procedural rules and rights.

Complainants’ rights and access to information

The Parliament position emphasises the right of all parties to equal and impartial treatment regardless of where their complaint was lodged; their right to be heard before any measure is taken that would adversely affect them; and their right to procedural transparency, including access to a joint case file.

To clarify and streamline cross-border procedures, Parliament wants to strengthen the provisions on joint case files. These would contain all information related to a case, and concerned supervisory authorities should have “instant, unrestricted and continuous” access to the joint case file. Parties to the complaint should also have access to the joint case file except for provisions on internal deliberations.

Clear deadlines to speed up procedures

MEPs also want to standardise procedural deadlines: they propose a time limit of two weeks for a supervisory authority to acknowledge that they have received a complaint and declare it admissible or inadmissible. Then, the authority would have three weeks to determine if the case is a cross-border one, and which authority should be the lead authority. Draft decisions must be delivered within nine months of receiving the complaint, outside of certain exceptional situations.

In addition, MEPs want to clarify the rules involving amicable settlements (consensual, negotiated resolutions to disputes) by stating that such settlements should require the explicit consent of the parties. They also seek to establish that an amicable settlement does not prevent a regulator from starting an own-initiative investigation into the matter, and that other regulators can request the lead authority to start such an investigation. Finally, the text aims to ensure that all parties to complaint procedures have the right to effective judicial remedies, for example when regulators do not take necessary actions or comply with deadlines.

Next steps

The file was referred back to committee for inter-institutional negotiations, and will be followed up by the new Parliament after the European elections in June.